As you might know, I recently launched two brand new advocacy sites/blogs, Parents of Players and Reform the NCAA. For quite some time as Oversigning.com has grown, Joshua and I have been discussing whether we should broaden our focus to cover many other (and far more serious) examples of exploitation of high school and college players.
One way is to have separate and distinct web sites/blogs for each problem/exploitation (that's the road we're on right at this minute). The other way would be to transform Oversigning.com into Oversigning & More.com. We could have a navigation bar at the top of the page with tabs for Oversigning, Truth in Recruiting, Academic Problems, Money Problems, Player Attrition, etc. Clicking one of these tabs would take you to a blog focused on the specific problem area. The benefit of this approach would be that it make it easy for highly interested people (like you) to stay informed on a wide range of NCAA problems & suggested reforms without putting a bunch of sites in your Favorites/Bookmarks.
From a business standpoint, this would enable us to aggregate our traffic and perhaps one day put us over the top in page views so that we might be able to begin covering our operating costs with a few inobtrusive ads. If things got really cranking we could afford to begin paying some talented writers to research and write highly professional pieces on each problem topic.
Last night I had this amazing epiphany (for you guys from Mississippi that means the light bulb went on. Whoa, don't get pissed off, I'm just kidding around!). My bright idea is this: Why not ask the passionate people on Oversigning.com what they think.
So, I'm asking. No holds barred. Tell us what you think. And if you'd like to nominate yourself to research & write on a topic please send an email to me at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
In a very well written article by Tim Twentyman, the SEC's Associate Commissioner, Greg Sankey admits the practice of grayshirting by some of his member schools is not appropriate. Our position all along has been that for a coach to go out and offer a ton of kids and tell them all that they might have to grayshirt depending on how things work out on signing day is fraudulent, at best. It is nothing more than a tactic to string kids along and keep them away from competing schools and offers no guarantee of a scholarship; there is a reason why the NLI's Susan Peal doesn't support grayshirting.
The SEC's Sankey admits that the practice of grayshirting by some of his member schools is "not appropriate" and says the SEC is considering adopting stricter measures on how recruits are counted.
"This year, we saw a couple circumstances where there was really late notice to student-athletes about programs' desire for them to defer enrollment," Sankey said. "Those circumstances are not appropriate. We don't want to see that type of thing happen.
"Part of the discussion is, 'Is there a way to manage grayshirting that should be out in front of folks?' In a similar way, should we be managing early-enrollment issues in a different way? All of those things mix into this discussion and that's why it takes some time to do some analysis to figure out some reasonable solution for our conference. We've been after this issue since the fall and we have an annual meeting in late May and early June, and I'd expect some potential solutions would be considered."
The article also includes quotes from several coaches, other conference officials, and recruited players who admit they had no idea what oversigning was until someone told them about it.
Madison Heights Madison defensive back Valdez Showers, who signed with Florida in February, said he never once thought about oversigning during his recruitment. He didn't even know such a thing was allowed.
"All I looked at was how many people they signed at my position," he said. "I never really thought about oversigning and I can tell you by experience that recruits aren't really looking at that, either."
Showers did say he was going to make sure future recruits at his high school are aware of the practice and ask the right questions during their recruitment — especially when dealing with some SEC schools.
"I think (oversigning) is real immature and unprofessional by a coach," Showers said. "Why would he recruit this many guys knowing that he's going to mess up another kid's chance of getting another scholarship from another school? I think recruits should start looking at that now."
Saginaw's DeAnthony Arnett, who'll also play in the SEC next season for Tennessee, said he didn't have to worry about having a spot on the team, due to his stature in the recruiting rankings. He is ranked the No. 8 receiver in the country by Scout.com and the No. 12 receiver by Rivals.com. But he said he could empathize with those players that find out too late to do anything about the fact that they are no longer wanted on campus in the fall.
"Some schools like oversigning kids and then giving them grayshirts or telling them to leave, which is wrong," he said. "Whatever your maximum is, that's how many you should be able to sign and not go over that."
Michigan State's Mark Dantonio says that they have never had to tell a kid that he doesn't have a scholarship; he also believes in Jim Tressel's method of giving open scholarships after the spring and summer natural attrition to deserving walk-on players who have earned a scholarship reward.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio told The Detroit News that he's never had to tell one of his players that his scholarship no longer exists, and can't imaging having to do so. But Dantonio added that he has to protect his program, which can be accomplished with moderate oversigning.
"My feeling is that as a program, you sign what you think you're going to have, and then there are always opportunities for a non-scholarship player — who's really played himself into a position to play — award him a scholarship, which we've been able to do every single year," Dantonio said.
To be clear, when reading these articles and talking about oversigning, you have to remember that there are two kinds of oversigning: signing more than 85 and signing more than 25. In many cases, like the quote above by Dantonio, coaches are referring to oversigning the 25 not the 85. For example, if a school has 57 returning players on scholarship, they can take on 28 to get to 85, however, 28 is over the 25 limit for a given year. What happens is that 3 of the 28 enroll early and count towards the previous year, then the remaining 25 enroll in the current year and count towards the current class. Therefore, despite going over the 25 limit, the school did not go over the 85 limit. This is what the Big 10 rule of going over by 3 is really there for; not so much to enable schools to abusively go over the 85 limit every year, which in talking to Chad Hawley simply doesn't happen. Our issue has always been going over the 85 because when that happens cuts have to be made; you can go over the 25 and not have to cut anyone as long as there is room in the previous class and guys enroll early.
We encourage you to read the rest of the article and discuss in the comments section. It's amazing that kids today, despite all of the talk in the media and everyone on the Internet, do not know what oversigning is or that it is allowed. Marc's proposal for Truth in Recruiting would definitely eliminate this problem.
Updated: Added quote from Mark Dantonio and commentary on the Big 10 rule for oversigning.
We are very pleased to finally announce that Marc Bailey, a former player at Indiana University, has joined our efforts here at Oversigning.com and will be handling various responsibilities, including business development and public relations. Marc is also going to assist us in finding writers for the site and seek out former players that have been wronged by teams that oversign and help us tell their story.
Marc is an amazing individual and we are really excited about his involvement here and what he brings to the table. Diagnosed with stage 4 esophageal cancer in 2004, Marc was given very little chance to survive. However, thanks to radical treatment and the grace of God, Marc survived his battle with cancer and is now cancer free! In fact, when meeting Marc in person you would never know that he was a cancer survivor. In his professional career, prior to retirement, Marc worked as a turnaround manager in the software industry and has been involved in the publishing industry for 25 years.
With a lifelong background in sports, which includes his time as a player at Indiana, his masters degree in Sports Management at Ohio University where he was classmates with Florida AD Jeremy Foley, and the 40+ years he spent involved in sports outside of his professional career, which included working on projects like Hoosier for Life at Indiana and membership on the board at The Drake Group, Marc has decided now that he is retired that he wants to pursue his passion of player advocacy and NCAA reform. Marc is a true, fire-breathing reformer! Having been directly involved in college football, both in his time at Indiana and while his son was being recruited by several schools (he finally ended up playing at Georgia Tech after two bad experiences at other schools), Marc has been exposed to the inner-workings of the collegiate "amateur" model and the lies and player exploitation that takes place, and he has decided to make it his life's mission to do what he can to change the way the game is played.
In addition to his new role here, Marc has started two new initiatives: Parents of Players Association and Reform the NCAA which we hope to be heavily involved in once our work here on oversigning is complete. We strongly recommend you read the Facts of Life page on the POPA site.
This morning, Jon Solomon, who has done some great reporting on the oversigning topic, wrote a spotlight piece on Marc in The Beaufort Gazette.
Update: A similar piece is up on al.com: http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2011/04/college_athletes_rights_who_fi.html
Marc Bailey is cancer-free, itching for a fight and willing to team up. Bailey, the Drake Group and Ramogi Huma's NCPA have discussed closely affiliating their reform initiatives.
Once a turnaround manager in the software industry, Bailey believes his goals can be helped by associating with a community organizer such as Huma. Bailey wants to get parents to share their stories anonymously on the Parents of Players Association website.
If you are a parent of a player and you think your son or the son of someone you know is being exploited in any way including being a victim of oversigning -- perhaps your son lost his scholarship because a coach oversigned his roster and had to make cuts in order to stay under the 85 limit -- please contact Marc: email@example.com. We want to hear your story and share it with our readers to help force the NCAA and their member Universities to clean up the player exploitation and on this site, specifically the oversigning issue.
If you are a writer/blogger/journalist looking to investigate and write on this topic and others related, please contact Marc.
Thanks again to our readers, we are certain that Marc is going to be instrumental in our ability to dig deeper on the topic of oversigning and bring out more of the stories that have been left untold by the players and their parents.
Alabama had 12 scholarship players leave the team (8 to graduation, 3 juniors to the NFL, and 1 transfer prior to signing day) last year; Alabama also signed 23 new players (22 on signing day and now Duron Carter) and had 2 players greyshirt last year that now count towards this class; this puts them at 25 new players this year. On NSD, Nick Saban told the media that they signed what they could, implying they had room for 22 + 2 GS, and that they could add another player later because there were candidates for medical hardships or redshirt guys that have graduated that could be replaced. To date there have been no announcements regarding any departures, but there have been plenty of names floated around as possible candidates.
As we mentioned a month ago, the numbers just don't jive. If you have 12 scholarship players leave but add 25 new scholarship players, the only way you have room for them all is if you finished the previous season with 72 scholarship players. 72 - 12=60, 60 + 25=85.
Does anyone believe that Alabama had only 72 scholarship players last year? If that was the case, then why the 2 greyshirts last year because there wasn't room -- if you are at 72 scholarship players why in the world would you greyshirt 2? The only viable reason would be the 25 limit, but Alabama had a handful of guys last year that enrolled early and counted toward the previous year, so there should have been room. Furthermore, Alabama had a bunch of attrition last year -- we examined their roster prior to signing day and projected the number of guys they needed to lose in order to get to 85 and that was the exact number of guys they lost during the spring and summer -- so if they weren't making roster cuts to get to 85 there should have been room for the two that greyshirted last year.
We are being a little coy here, we know they didn't have 72 guys on scholarship to end the season last year. The reality is that they are over right now, and the medical hardship, transfers and non-renewals should start to emerge soon.
With spring practice in full swing, shouldn't anyone that is injured to the point that they can no longer participate already be on medical hardship? Maybe there are guys that are not participating in practice right now, not sure.
All of these questions could be answered if Alabama didn't withhold their scholarship numbers information from the media, something no school should be doing. Cecil Hurt with the Tuscaloosa News is working on this and has filed Freedom of Information requests in an effort to get scholarship numbers from the University, which is bizarre when you consider Alabama is one of the few programs around the country that runs a web cam on national signing day so that everyone can see the signed letters of intent as they come in; each time one comes in the school posts the name of the player on the fax machine so everyone can see it. Why would you go out of your way to broadcast that information yet withhold scholarship numbers from the media when asked for them?
@TheMarchTo85 I promise we are using every FOI avenue available.
We have asked Cecil Hurt to simply ask Saban if they have room for everyone right now and from this point forward if anyone leaves will it result in Alabama starting the season under the 85 limit. Those are questions that A.) should be asked, and B.) Saban should be able to answer. To his credit, Hurt acknowledged our request and stated that he would follow up with Saban this week and ask questions.
The topic of oversigning with the intention of signing and placing recruits in JUCO schools in the southeast has been a heavily debated topic here at oversigning.com. Numerous SEC coaches have publicly defended their practice of signing and placing kids they have oversigned into JUCO schools, including Auburn's former coach Tommy Tuberville, who claimed he oversigned every year as a head coach. Huston Nutt was trying to setup his own little farm league in the JUCO system when he raped the signing process a few ago and signed 37 recruits, 12 of which he knew had no shot at qualifying.
Our position has been that coaches abuse this practice in order to hoard recruits and keep them away from rival schools. As SportsByBrooks.com is now reporting regarding HBO's upcoming special on business and ethics in college sports, we see why SEC coaches, specifically Auburn's ex-coach Tommy Tuberville, liked to oversign and place the non-qualifiers in JUCO.
Kremer voiceover: “Raven Gray was a top (Auburn) recruit in 2007, he says people affiliated with Auburn would visit him at his junior college and press the flesh there too.”
Kremer to Gray: “How much do you think you got?”
Gray: “Twenty five-hundred to three thousand dollars. Loyalty is the key. This man give me money I’m going to be loyal to him and go to Auburn.”
Kremer voiceover: “And he did go to Auburn but got injured before he ever played a game.”
According to Raven Gray, people affiliated with Auburn would visit him and bring him money while he was in the JUCO farm system.
Folks, the entire system is broken and the sport that we so dearly love is on the brink. The writing is on the wall -- this is going to get worse before it gets better and unfortunately oversigning and the ancillary filth that comes with it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Gene Chizik and Auburn made a concerted effort this year not to oversign their roster. Coming off of a year (2010) where they signed 32, in large part because they were well below the 85 limit in 2009, they signed 24 recruits, which appears to be 2 less than they could have signed based on the number of players that departed last year and the number of players they had on scholarship at the end of the season.
With the numbers already low due to the dismissal of Eric Smith for violation of team rules and a checked past that included a couple of arrests, Auburn suffered a huge loss of 4 players due to being arrested for armed robbery and other felonies. This alone puts them roughly 7 under the 85 limit, and if that were not enough, yesterday Chizik announced that 4 more players are not currently with the team. If in fact they are gone for good that would be 9 players since national signing day and it is very possible that Auburn could start the season with 74 scholarship players -- unless some of those scholarships are given to deserving walk-ons on a one-year basis or unless Auburn is able to sign someone from JUCO at the last minute.
Auburn Attrition 2011
|1||Eric Smith||Violation of team rules|
|2||Mike McNeil||Armed Robbery|
|3||Antonio Goodwin||Armed Robbery|
|4||Shaun Kitchens||Armed Robbery|
|5||Dakota Mosley||Armed Robbery|
More after the jump...
Ramogi Huma reached out to us a while back when he found our site, and since that time we have been communicating back and forth on the topic of oversigning. Just recently, Mr. Huma provided testimony in a legislative hearing in the state of Connecticut that included the proposal of Committee Bill No. 5415, AN ACT REQUIRING FULL DISCLOSURE TO PROSPECTIVE ATHLETES BEING RECRUITED TO INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION. From the NCPA website press release:
"In 1973, the NCAA made athletic scholarships renewable on a year-to-year basis," Sack said. "Four-year scholarships are a thing of the past."
The result, Sack said, is that high school students and their families often are unaware when and how a college can rescind a scholarship.
While NCAA rules state that athletic aid cannot be reduced or cancelled during the one-year period of the award because of athletic ability or injury, Sack said, "the rules are murky when it comes to conditions for the renewal and non-renewal of the scholarships in the subsequent year."
"Some universities renew scholarships for four years as long as athletes continue playing and adhere to team rules," said Sack. "Others cancel scholarships for poor athletic performance or for injury."
The Bill also included an Article specific to oversigning:
(F) The policy of the institution of higher education regarding whether or not such institution may choose to sign more recruited student athletes than it has available athletic scholarships and the consequences to the athletic scholarship opportunities of recruited and current student athletes in such situations.
Upon receiving word from Mr. Huma that they included provisions for creating transparency relative to oversigning (c&p from his email):
"Your work bringing the oversigning issue to national discussion was crucial in addressing oversigning in the Connecticut legislation."
We asked Mr. Huma if he would answer a few questions and allow us to share his response with our readers. Keep in mind, while reading the Q&A session, Mr. Huma is the President of a non-profit organization with over 14,000 student-athlete members. Therefore, he is hearing from players and parents what very few of us hear in the national media. His comments are very telling in our opinion.
How long has oversigning been on your radar and when did it become a topic of concern?
"I bumped into oversigning.com last spring while doing research to support a bill that the NCPA sponsored in California, and the practice of oversigning immediately became a topic of concern."
The recent legislative proposal included an article that addresses oversigning and is calling for universities to disclose whether or not they engage in oversigning and what the consequences are for the student-athlete given that the institution engages in that practice. Obviously, the goal here is to help educate parents and players by forcing the universities to post their policy on oversigning on their athletic website. From your perspective, how aware of oversigning are parents and recruits?
"Parents and recruits have no idea that oversigning takes place. The only ones that eventually become aware are those that find out the hard way, which usually means that their school is forcing them to gray shirt or is not renewing their scholarship."
Many fans that support oversigning have a hard time believing that the practice really harms kids, we have tried change the way people think in that regard on the oversigning.com site, but yet there are still some that are not convinced. What would you say to those people?
"Typically when schools oversign, an incoming player is gray shirted or a player already on the roster loses a scholarship. I have personally fielded numerous calls from both categories of players from all sports who are informed that their scholarship will not be available upon arrival or will not be renewed. All have been devastated by not only the loss of their means to earn a degree, but the deep sense of betrayal by their coach/college. For the incoming players, many of them have to try to pay their own way through school without any guarantee that they will ever receive a scholarship. Many of these families have not prepared for such expenses since the schools had promised a scholarship. In addition, other previously interested schools lose interest because their rosters are already full.
For current players that lose their scholarship to make room for an incoming recruit, those fortunate enough to transfer to another school often suffer academically because many of their credits are not accepted by the new school, they have to change their major, and have to sit out a year before competition. Others drop out of school. Most of these players had been promised 4 years as long as they kept their grades up and abided by team rules. Players are not aware that a school can revoke a scholarship for any reason. Most of the players I've spoken to have been in good academic standing, have participated fully in mandatory and 'voluntary' workouts, and have not broken a team rule. Make no mistake, the young student-athletes and parents I have spoken are completely devastated. That's the first time I've heard the argument that players whose scholarships are taken away or are forced to grey shirt are not harmed. I hope its the last time. We should be focusing on ways to solve this problem not spending our energy debating whether or not a knife wound really hurts."
Outside of the proposed state legislation, what would you like to see the NCAA or the SEC conference do to address the issue? The Big 10 Conference addressed this issue back in 1954 and it appears that their rules, which were slightly relaxed in 2002 to allow occasional oversigning with the understanding that everything is transparent and processed through the conference office to ensure there is not player abuse taking place to make the roster numbers work, should the SEC and the rest of college football simply adopt those rules or is something more needed?
"While the NCPA believes in and is currently pushing for better transparency on this issue, I believe that there is a better solution. Schools should not be allowed to sign more players than they have scholarships."
And lastly, some have made the point that closing the oversigning loophole will simply move the attrition further upstream so that the number of openings that exist on NSD are greater, essentially meaning that roster purging would take place in Dec/Jan instead of after February and before August. A.) Do you think that closing the loophole will result in further abuses upstream, and B.) how would you address that if it happens?
A.) It is possible that some coaches would remove players from the rosters early unless 2 things happen (see B)
1. All scholarship non-seniors listed on the roster at the beginning of the season are counted toward the scholarship count on National Signing Day. Coaches wouldn't have an incentive to purge the roster before signing day because it wouldn't allow them to sign an excess number of players.
2. Schools should have a second signing period in July to fill scholarship openings due to players who transfer, become academically ineligible, suffer a career ending injury, etc.
With these two provisions, coaches can address natural attrition without the ability to deny a signee a scholarship or remove an existing player due to oversigning. If all of the colleges played by the same rules, none would have an unfair advantage and players' educational opportunities would not be sacrificed.
Chad Hawley, Associate Commissioner of the Big 10 Conference, was kind enough to take a few minutes and explain to us exactly how the Big 10 Conference monitors oversigning, and what he has shared with us shines a new light on a few things we were not aware of, things that, in our opinion, actually make the recruiting process much more restrictive than just limiting oversigning. We were aware that there was an audit prior to national signing day to determine the number of scholarships available and that schools had to establish their budget prior to signing day, but we had no idea that Big 10 schools were limited in the number of offers they could give out in addition to being limited to oversigning by 3.
As outlined in step 1, the Big 10 limitation is triggered by the issuance of an offer, not by the acceptance on the part of the prospect. Therefore, Big 10 schools are required to establish a budget number for how many OFFERS they can give with an exception of no more than 3 over what they have room for under the 85 limit at any one time. Mr. Hawley notes that several institutions overoffered, but as of right now there is only 1 institution that is oversigned. Therefore, despite having the option to oversign by 3, of the 12 member institutions, only 1 has oversigned.
In reading between the lines just a little here (we should probably ask a follow up question on this), it appears that the number of offers a Big 10 institution can issue is controlled by the conference office. Step 2 indicates that there is a little bit of wiggle room in total number of overoffers, but that there can be no more than 3 at one time. It would be interesting to see just how many are given out over the course of a recruiting class. However, given that you can only have 3 over the budget number at a time and that you would have to wait until a recruit turns the offer down to issue a replacement, it's hard to imagine that schools would be offering way more than they have room for under the 85 limit.
Here is an excerpt from Mr. Hawley's email:
Several of our institutions overoffered, but as of now I'm aware of only one institution that actually oversigned. We'll take the official inventory after the signing period ends.
This is how our monitoring process works:
Step 1 (Prior to the signing period): An institution notifies us of the number of scholarships available and whether they intend to use the exception to overoffer. [I think I may have explained this previously, but in case I haven't, our rule is triggered by the offer of aid, not the acceptance on the part of the prospect. In other words, technically our exception is that an institution my overoffer by 3.]
Step 2 (Prior to/throughout the signing period): An institution that overoffers submits the name(s) of the prospect(s) who received the offer(s) that exceeded the institution's limit. Per our rule, there may be no more than 3 outstanding overoffers; if an institution offers beyond the original three names submitted, the institution must indicate why it is permissible to issue an additional overoffer (e.g., "This additional offer is permissible because an offeree signed with another institution, which reduced the number of outstanding overoffers to two").
Step 3 (After classes have begun in the fall): An institution that ultimately oversigned has to account for every signed prospect--did they enroll, and if not, why? In addition, the institution has to account for every student-athlete who received a scholarship the previous year. These SAs will fall into 4 basic categories:
- Renewal-counter (SAs who have returned, are on aid, and count against the limit of 85)
- Renewal-noncounter (SAs who have returned, are on aid, but do not count against the limit of 85--e.g., exhausted eligibility SAs and medical noncounters)
- Nonrenewal-graduate (SAs who were not renewed because they graduated)
- Nonrenewal-other (This category would include SAs who have--for example--transferred, quit, turned professional, or knew they were getting aid for just one year)
For any SA who is categorized as "nonrenewal-other," the institution has to provide not just the reason the SA was "nonrenewal-other," but also information regarding that SA's history at the institution (including academic history), who initiated the nonrenewal (the SA or institution), whether a hearing for nonrenewal of aid was requested, and finally the SA's present status (i.e., does he remain enrolled at the institution, is he enrolled elsewhere, etc.).
This is pretty interesting stuff because many of you who debate this topic in the comments section were talking about controlling the number of scholarships offered.
Mark Richt has some very strong words about schools offering scholarships like candy:
One of the hardest things for us to do is to evaluate and nail down who you’re going to go after, especially in our own state. A lot of the out of state teams will just come in and just offer like mad. They’ll come in and just offer like candy. Quite frankly I’m not going to name names of schools, but a lot of them will do that just to get in the fight and if the kid commits too soon and they’re not sure they want, they’ll just tell them that’s not a committable offer. Whatever the heck that means?
Perhaps when the SEC meets this summer to discuss oversigning they can look at some of the guidelines and rules the Big 10 has set forth to eliminate the abuse and consider adopting them. We are certain that Mark Richt would appreciate a limitation on the number of offers that can be issued.
In addition to controlling the number of offers, step 3 also provides some insight as to the transparency required when oversigning actually occurs, as well as requiring a full account of every SA that received a scholarship the previous year.
Mr. Hawley has indicated that would be glad to try and answer any follow up questions. We have a few of our own, but wanted to get feedback from our readers before sending our own questions.
First and foremost, this site is dedicated to the topic of oversigning. We have stated that from day 1 and we have not wavered from that topic; we have overlapped into some gray areas that are indirectly connected to oversigning, but we have never entered into discussions on topics that are exclusively outside the realm of oversigning. Period.
There is no denying that we have been very strong supporters of Jim Tressel and how he manages the recruiting process and the roster numbers. On many occasions we have used his numbers and video of his comments regarding the topic as an example of how the process should be handled, and even more so we have praised his efforts to avoid oversigning at all costs by awarding scholarships to deserving 5th year walk-ons. That has not changed. Regardless of how you feel about what transpired in the recent events surrounding the NCAA investigation, it has absolutely no bearing on the facts that pertain to how he has conducted himself in the recruiting process and with regards to oversigning.
Simply put, Jim Tressel's track record on recruiting, roster management, and oversigning has been impeccable, no one can challenge that, and we are not going to throw the baby out with the bath water. What Tressel did has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of oversigning and therefore nothing will change here with regards to how we feel about how he manages his roster and what he does to avoid the abuses of oversigning.
That said, it is fully understood that the debate on oversigning is often times a debate about ethics. It is also fully understood that to engage in a conversation about ethics in one area and yet ignore or defer comment on unethical behavior in another area can be deemed as irresponsible and misconstrued as having an agenda. That is not the case here. This site is about having a linear discussion about oversigning in order to have it eliminated. We will gladly take whatever criticism comes with this narrowed approach, but at the same time we hope that our readers understand that the most effective way to address the oversigning issue is to stay on point.
This site has been instrumental in leading to reform in the area of oversigning and that work will continue until it is finished. The reason for this site's success is the narrowed focus on a singular topic (oversigning), and while that comes with the flaw of not being able to expand into other areas, such as the Tressel situation or any number of other topics that come up on a daily basis, it is vital to the success of the site and will be maintained.
Or at least that is what it sounds like here:
No one said the fight would be easy. We'll have more on this later when our head is finished exploding and we figure out how to blame this on Nick Saban. One thing is for sure, they named that damn blog right "The Chopping Block."
We posted a quick link on this earlier in the week but would like to drill into it a little more here. In the discussions lately in the comments section, there have been a few readers that have made the point that eliminating oversigning will only lead to abuses to players further upstream, meaning that instead of cutting players after signing day players would be cut in December and January. It appears the NCAA is thinking along the same lines, which to be honest is very troubling because in order to subscribe to the notion that a rules change would only result in abuse further upstream you have to accept that player abuse is currently taking place with the use of oversigning, something many of you who have tried to defend oversigning have denied.
Because the effect of the new rule may not be apparent immediately, the Football Issues Committee decided to remain diligent about monitoring it.
“This rule has only been in effect for one year, and we want to take some time to see if that’s the perfect number,” said committee chair Nick Carparelli. “Certainly, the committee will continue to monitor it, and we can re-evaluate to see if there is a more appropriate number if necessary.”
The rule change that they are monitoring, in case you are unaware, is the recent additions of 220.127.116.11 and 18.104.22.168 from proposal 2009-48 which only limit the number of NLI's to 28 between NSD and May 31st. Rules that Andy Staples said were not worth the paper they were written on.
We don't believe this is about finding the right number. This is about a shift in the cultural mindset of the schools that abuse oversigning the most. As we have mentioned a few times, the Big 10 Conference established its rules on oversigning back in the 1950's and it is our belief that over time the mindset of the member institutions has been shaped by those rules resulting in oversigning not being an issue in that conference. As you can see by analyzing the numbers, the type of attrition that many think will be moved upstream by today's oversigners, such as this example from Huston Nutt, is not an issue in the Big 10; if it were you would see that the Big 10 would have a much higher number of players signed each year, and yet, of all the BCS schools the Big 10 ranks last in the average number of players signed.
So what is the solution? Leadership. When the SEC university presidents meet in June for their annual conference meetings, they absolutely must demand that their athletic departments stop oversigning and they must create a culture that does not accept the kind of roster attrition we see from the oversigning schools. Maybe they find that in a number or in a set of rules, or maybe they find that by hiring coaches that are more known for their ethical treatment of players and ability to develop them instead of their ability to recruit or find loopholes in the NCAA by-laws.
Another area covered in the NCAA press release was the practice of grayshirting, which the NCAA is also going to start monitoring. This too has become a controversial topic with Florida's President calling it morally reprehensible.
Susan Peal, who administers the National Letter of Intent program, said the Collegiate Commissioners Association (the program’s governing body) doesn’t support grayshirting. The program has a policy that nullifies the National Letter of Intent if an institution or coach asks the student-athlete to grayshirt. However, if a student-athlete decides to delay enrollment, the national letter remains valid. Determining the instigator of the decision can be difficult.
According to the press release, Susan Peal appears to agree with Florida's president, and although she doesn't call it morally reprehensible, it is clear that she does not support grayshirting due to the fact that it can nullify the NLI. One area where this is a concern is that some coaches are purposely oversigning and telling many of the kids they recruit that there is a possibility that they MIGHT have to take a grayshirt if the numbers don't work out. As August rolls around and the numbers begin to shake out, the coaches that have oversigned and told recruits that they MIGHT have to take a grayshirt can play their ace in the hole and attempt to avoid public backlash by stating that they told the recruit up front that a grayshirt might be POSSIBLE. Our question is, did they also tell them that they are offering something that the NLI program does not support because of the risk it poses to the recruit or are they telling them that grayshirting is normal and there is nothing to worry about? Based on the comments of the players and parents that have found themselves in a grayshirt situation it is clear that everyone is not on the same page.
Our position is that we are against coaches telling a handful of recruits that they MIGHT have to grayshirt if the numbers don't work out and we are against coaches oversigning knowing they have a handful of players they can push back if they need to via the grayshirt. Grayshirt offers should only come after a school has filled all of their available openings, it should be petitioned for with transparency at the conference or NCAA level, and there should be something in writing that guarantees the recruit that they will have spot in the following class. Grayshirt offers, if any, should be the last offers given out because all of the current openings in the class are taken. It is unethical to go around giving out offers that come with a grayshirt clause. NLI doesn't support the grayshirt practice and recruits that are being told by a football coach that they MIGHT have to take a greyshirt should be very cautious when considering that kind of offer. Hopefully we will see some reform here and the grayshirt process with either go away or become heavily regulated. We would hate to throw the baby out with the bath water just because you have a handful of coaches out there offering kids conditional grayshirt offers simply to keep them away from other schools.
Well there goes the argument that nothing nefarious is going on with oversigning because otherwise we would hear High School coaches speak out and call out the schools that are wronging their kids. Walter Banks apparently felt that South Carolina, in an effort to reduce the oversigning they were projected to have, screwed one of his kids, Jordan Montgomery, by pulling his scholarship offer at the last minute without warning.
Josh Kendall, who covers South Carolina football for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C., reported in a story that was published on Wednesday that Montgomery’s coach at South Lake High, has declared that the Gamecocks’ coaches are “no longer welcome” at the school.
“I cannot look a kid and their parent in the face and say you can trust what a University of South Carolina coach says,” South Lake coach Walter Banks told Kendall.
I’d provide a link to the story but all of The State’s online content is behind a pay wall. But if you’d like to read more about it I certainly think it’s worth it. Just go to GoGamecocks.com.
South Carolina is no longer welcome at South Lake High School because Walter Banks doesn't feel that a kid or his parents can trust a coach from the University of South Carolina, and the entire reason for that mistrust is because South Carolina coaches were engaging in the practice of oversigning, and as is often the case kids are getting screwed because of it.
South Carolina is not the only University that has lost the trust of High School coaches. Although Purdue pulling its offer from AJ King had nothing to do with oversigning, it shows that there is an increasing lack of trust between high school coaches and college coaches.
“They flew A.J. up there to Purdue, everybody wowed him, told him they loved him and all that,” said King’s high school coach, Sean Callahan. “Then, after he came home, they pulled him, without ever talking to our doctors, without ever talking to our trainers.
“It’s completely unprofessional. In all my years as a coach, I’ve never, ever seen something done to a kid like this.”
And Callahan’s letting ‘em know it. He’s banned Purdue from recruiting his high school.
What Purdue did was horrible, but it is not germane to the oversigning issue which is the focus of this site, and therefore has not been covered in detail. Purdue was not in a numbers crunch and the reason for pulling the offer does not appear to have anything to do with being oversigned and having to make numbers work; Purdue simply decided they didn't want to honor their commitment to King based on his injury and the way that they handled it was completely unprofessional and we're glad to see King's high school coach blast them for it.
It's a small step in the right direction.
It is very interesting to read that Susan Peal, administrator of the NLI program, does not support grayshirting.
Attention all recruits that have been told by coaches that you might have to take a grayshirt if the numbers aren't there, the coaches telling you this are doing something that is not supported by the NLI program!!! Be very cautious of any coach that is selling you on the POSSIBILITY of having to take a grayshirt, especially if they are oversigning, you could get screwed. Educate yourself on this before signing anything!
With the SEC meetings in June on the horizon and the topic of oversigning at or near the topic of the agenda, perhaps Mike Slive and the Athletic Directors of the SEC should use the oversigning time machine and rewind the clock back to the SEC meetings of 1964. That was the year Georgia Tech took a stand against the practice of oversigning and eventually left the conference because it would not change its recruiting rules to prevent the abuses taking place relative to signing more players than there was room for, which subsequently led to players being run off the team and out of school.
It is absolutely amazing that 47 years later this is one of the hottest topics going into the conference meetings and still an issue in the SEC. Granted, Georgia and Florida are not threatening to leave the SEC if Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, Arkansas, South Carolina, and Auburn don't stop oversigning, but it is clear that the battle lines have been drawn and just like in 1964 the conference remains strongly divided on the practice of oversigning.
The Georgia Tech Alumni Magazine recently wrote a wonderful article on the 1964 SEC meetings with a blow for blow account of what happened and why GT really left the SEC -- oversigning. Here is just a snippet of the article; we highly recommend you read the rest of the article.
Over the years, many have debated the reason for Tech’s departure from the SEC. Some will argue that Tech athletics had begun to slip and were no longer able to compete with the other conference teams. Others will point to a running feud with the University of Alabama as the cause. Still others will suggest that Tech wanted to be an independent all along, hoping to become the Notre Dame of the South. Tech was losing a lot of revenue generated from TV and bowl rights because of conference sharing rules. As an independent, Tech would be able to keep all the money it earned.
The true reason was over something called the 140 Rule — and Bobby Dodd’s determination to have it changed.
The SEC 140 Rule placed yearly caps on football and basketball scholarships at 45 and limited the total number of scholarships each school could offer to 140. Even with the normal attrition expected from academic dropouts and other issues, simple math shows that if a school recruited its full allotment of players each year it would be over the 140 maximum.
Instead of recruiting a smaller number of athletes each year to manage the 140 maximum, many SEC schools would simply cut the scholarships of players who had not performed to expectations. Atlanta’s afternoon newspaper, The Atlanta Journal, reported “Dodd’s chief complaint with the 140 has been the alleged practice of some schools ‘running off’ recruiting mistakes to make room for new signees.”
We have long believed that the practice of oversigning is tolerated in certain areas because of a cultural mindset that believes it's okay to treat student-athletes as pawns or pieces of meat. This is the same mindset that believes in winning at all costs because bragging rights are more important than ethics. It should be noted, both from a historical perspective regarding GT's decision to leave the SEC in 1964 because of the oversigning issue and from a contemporary perspective from the recent comments from Florida's President and Georgia's Athletic Director condemning the practice of oversigning that this is not a North vs. South issue. This is an issue about ethics in recruiting and the sides are Right and Wrong, not North and South. The Big 10 Conference put its rules in place in 1954 to deal with oversigning, 10 years prior to GT leaving the SEC, and there is no record of the Big 10 having an influence on that decision in 1964. Likewise, very little is being said publicly by Big 10 officials on this topic. Chad Hawley has provided comments and a few coaches have answered questions on the topic or provided commentary, but by and large the Big 10 Conference is not pushing its rules onto the SEC. Instead, the SEC is right back where it was 47 years ago, heavily divided along the battle lines of oversigning, and this time it is Georgia instead of Georgia Tech that is taking a stand with Florida at its side.
Correction: The SEC Presidents and Athletic Directors meet in early June, not July as previously stated above.
The Wall Street Journal just released another article on oversigning written by Hannah Karp and Darren Everson in which Steve Spurrier, Bobby Petrino, and Huston Nutt all attempt to defend oversigning, calling it necessary and helpful.
Spurrier admits that it is a competitive advantage to the SEC and that it is hurting the Big 10 a lot to not partake in the practice of oversigning. The crazy thing about Spurrier is that he didn't really have to rely on oversigning while at Florida.
Spurrier said oversigning is "helpful" because so many of the players in the state come from underprivileged backgrounds and may not qualify academically. He said the Big Ten, which has curbed oversigning for decades, is making a mistake by doing so. "I think that really hurts them a lot," Spurrier said. "They end up giving scholarships to a lot of walk-ons."
Petrino openly admits that they target 3-4 recruits that they know for sure are not going to qualify academically so they can place them in the JUCO farm system.
Petrino, the Arkansas coach, said he tries to follow a formula. He signs 19 players he knows are "academically gonna make it without being a load on our academic support staff," six guys who may or may not qualify, and three to four players who have "absolutely no chance" of qualifying. (He signs the last group so that "they feel a commitment to us," and stashes them in junior college for a few years.)
Nutt claims that we can't have a perfect world of signing 22 players every year. Big 10 coaches must be living in a fantasy world because they average around 22 players per year and have done so for a long time.
Houston Nutt, Mississippi's coach, signed 31 players in 2008, 37 in 2009, 25 last year and 28 last month. He said oversigning is sometimes "necessary," mainly to plug holes. This year, he said, two cornerbacks—Jermaine Whitehead and Floyd Raven—defected at the last minute. "Now I'm sitting here without two corners. You just can't have this perfect world of, 'We're gonna sign 22 this year.'"
Meanwhile, the High School coach of one of the players South Carolina pulled the plug on at the last minute is crying foul play.
Montgomery's high school coach, Walter Banks, said, "I told them this was foul. I didn't have a clue until 18 hours before signing day, and if they say anything else, they're lying."
The number one thing that stands out in this article is that the majority of recruits either don't care or don't know about all the ins and outs of the recruiting numbers -- they all think they are going to play and that they won't be the one to get cut. Obviously the lure of NFL cash and whatever the recruiters are selling is just too much for kids to look past.
In interviews conducted in the weeks since last month's signing day, when top high-school seniors make their college commitments, dozens of signees headed to some of the nation's most chronically oversigned schools were either unconcerned, or unaware, that these schools may have to cut some players to balance their lopsided books.
Offensive tackle Jonah Austin of New Orleans, who signed at LSU, said he wasn't aware that LSU is about 11 players over budget—and that it's not something he's thought much about. Cornerback Senquez Golson of Pascagoula, Miss., who chose Mississippi over Florida State, said that at the risk of sounding "cocky" he's not worried about being "run off" by coaches. "I don't think I'll be one of those players," he said.
Based on these comments, the conference meeting in July to discuss the topic of oversigning will be very interesting and probably very heated. Clearly not everyone in the SEC is on the same page with this issue. The topic of oversigning is a fundamental element of the cultural identity of a conference and for the SEC members to be so divided on this is really unbelievable. This is where the Big 10 Conference is reaping the benefit of banning this practice back in 1954; the decision to remove oversigning back then created a cultural mindset in the Big 10 Conference that oversigning is not accepted and therefore it is simply not an issue today. The SEC was faced with this same opportunity back then when Georgia Tech demanded that the SEC step in and put a stop to oversigning, the SEC did not and Georgia Tech left. Are the rest of the chickens coming home to roost? It appears that way.
Hannah and Darren have really done a great job covering this topic, we encourage everyone to go read the rest of the article -- things are getting very interesting.